The Dig 'a great slow-burn indie thriller with a killer twist'

Moe Dunford stars as Ronan in The Dig

A HIT at last year's Belfast Film Festival, independent Northern Ireland-shot thriller The Dig is finally on general release from today and, along with the excellent Eighth Grade – one of the gems of this year's Film Festival – it's well worth seeking out for those in the mood to enjoy a cinematic offering that's a little more subtle and cerebral than Marvel's latest superhero slamfests.

Penned by Stuart Drennan, it's an assured first-time feature for both he and Belfast directors Ryan and Andy Tohill, who deliver their tense and highly atmospheric tale with impressive style and conviction.

The Dig centres on ex-con and recovering alcoholic Ronan (Moe Dunford), fresh from a lengthy stretch in prison and now hoping to live out the rest of his days in brooding seclusion at his dilapidated farmhouse.

However, when he arrives home, Ronan is disturbed to discover that Sean (Lorcan Cranitch) has been busy digging up his back garden in a meticulous search for vital answers about the crime that changed both their lives – answers that Ronan's black-out-drunk damaged memory has thus far been unable to provide.

Further complicating matters is the fact that said 'back garden' is actually several acres of desolate bogland and, with Ronan as desperate for closure as Sean, the crim insists on assisting with the excavations against the latter's protestations.

The two men gradually forge a begruding, dirt-encrusted partnership under the watchful eyes of Sean's daughter Roberta (Emily Taaffe) and hardened local copper Murphy (Francis Magee), both of whom regard the proceedings with a distaste that seems to run deeper than they're letting on.

Naturally, physical spadework is not the only digging in play during this glacially paced yet highly compelling drama, which sees various secrets and lies unearthed during verbal spats which take place upon the rain and wind-lashed turf under suitably foreboding iron skies, all capably captured by cinematographer Angus Mitchell.

Performances are great throughout, with Dunford in particularly fine form as a tortured convict condemned to a life sentence of self-recrimination and regret as a result of a crime he can't even remember committing.

Another top-drawer product of NI Screen's New Talent Focus scheme following The Survivalist and Bad Day For The Cut, The Dig is a great slow-burn indie thriller with a killer twist you won’t see coming.

Rating: 8/10

THE DIG (15, 97mins) Starring: Moe Dunford, Francis Magee, Lorcan Cranitch, Emily Taaffe. Directors: Ryan Tohill, Andy Tohill

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